Northwestern professor says federal assault weapons ban would save many lives

As the nation reels from yet another mass shooting, the same questions emerge.  

Why did it happen, and how can we stop it from happening again?

"Why did this guy kill so many people? The reason he did it was because he wanted to kill as many people as possible," said Dr. Lori Post, director of Buehler Center for Health Policy at Northwestern School of Medicine.

Dr. Post studies mass shootings at Northwestern School of Medicine. 

Just in the last couple of weeks, we've had the Texas school shooting, the Buffalo grocery store shooting plus many others. 

Post says you can't blame mental illness, but instead, gunmen she calls "evil", are often inspired by other shooters.

"We know they inspire each other because they write about it. And we know there's like online postings on who had the highest kill count or people talking about other mass shooters that they admire," said Dr. Post.

Dr. Post says what emboldens those shooters is access to assault weapons. Her research shows mass shootings, which she defines as four or more people killed, increased and became more lethal when the federal assault weapons ban ended in 2004.

But as lawmakers grapple about new gun laws, one DePaul University instructor who studies the politics of this issue says don't expect anything to pass.


"After Sandy Hook there was a much larger majority in the Senate with Democrats, and they still weren't able to get anything passed. I think the chances of getting something passed after this one are even less likely because we've only become more polarized and more gridlocked since then," said Eulalie Laschever, Sociology Instructor at DePaul.

The Governor of Texas blasted Chicago, saying this city is proof gun laws don't work.

But Professor Post says most guns come from out of state, highlighting the need for federal laws.

"Texas has the most guns out of any other state and Americans are heavily armed, and we're going to keep adding more and more guns and we should expect to see more and more shootings," said Dr. Post.

There's been a strong uptick in mass shootings that correlates with the rise of social media and web based media, so Dr. Post says we shouldn't make the shooters famous or glorify them, as that could inspire the next massacre.